LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - “The X Factor” winner Melanie Amaro said on Friday she was shocked at her victory but believed that singing from her heart had given her the edge over her rivals in the TV contest.
Amaro’s triumph also gave broadcaster Fox a ratings win, with Thursday’s two-hour finale bringing in 12.4 million viewers, making “X Factor” the most-watched show of the night on U.S. television.
The 19 year-old from Florida won a $5 million recording contract, but said on Friday she was going to keep details of her first album a secret.
“I am going to keep everyone guessing as to what is going to come out, so people will go get it and they will be amazed,” she told reporters on a conference call.
But she said she planned to spend some of her winnings on a foot massager and a new house for her mother.
“I feel as though I am in a dream. I feel as though this is not real...I was so thrilled to have won and so shocked,” said Amaro.
Amaro’s powerhouse vocals had made her a front-runner since her first audition for the show.
But she was cut from competition’s early rounds, only to be later reinstated by “X Factor” creator Simon Cowell, in what TV watchers widely considered a manufactured drama to hype interest in the show’s first season on U.S. TV.
Amaro on Friday said she did not know whether her initial elimination and call-back had been deliberately staged, but said she genuinely thought she was out of the contest.
“I had no clue Simon was coming to my house. I thought I was out of it ... I kept thinking I wasn’t good enough,” she said. “All I know is that he (Cowell) apologized about it. Whatever happened in the past, is the past.”
Asked why she thought she had won, the modest teen said; “I think doing what I do, with all of my heart, put me apart from some of the other contestants ... I sing to the very, very pit of my soul because singing is something I truly enjoy.”
Amaro’s win closed a mixed first season for “X Factor”, which Cowell brought to the United States from Britain with huge fanfare and predictions it would topple long-running “American Idol”, also on Fox, as the nation’s most-watched show.
But “X Factor” audiences have been about half those of “Idol” and producers on Friday declined to disclose the number of votes cast by the public in the finale.
Fox executives, however, say the show has been a success and has helped the network win Thursday nights in the fall with the key 18-49 age group for the first time in its history.
Fox also noted that the audience for Thursday’s finale was 1.4 million more than that for the summer climax of NBC’s rival TV singing contest, “The Voice”.
Fox has already renewed “X Factor” for a second season but media speculation is rife over whether heavily-criticized judge Nicole Scherzinger, and British host Steve Jones will be returning in 2012.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte